Log, 28 December 1998
Position: 14d 42m North, 29d 08m West (260 miles west of Brava)
Wind 20-30 knots, northeast
Course 264 degrees true, speed 6-7 knots
The "Milk Run"
to Tobago has begun as more of a Milkshake; lots of wind, 15-foot waves,
lots of water aboard, and caked salt has now replaced the harmattan
dust on our decks and persons, arguably an improvement. We are making
fine progress, 144 miles in the past 24 hours, and happy to be moving
purposefully again, though we could all do with a bit more modest motion.
1900 miles to go--New World, here we come!
30 December 1998, 1600 hours local time
Position: 14d 34m North, 34d 33m West
Day 4 of our passage
to Tobago, and we have covered 580 miles, a little over 1/4th of the
way; outstanding progress for the old barky. Still contending with a
very boisterous trade wind, up to 40 knots at times last night, but
moderating some today. The tossing and heaving is mostly done, but we
are still rockin' and rollin'. A few bruises and some minor wear and
tear on the boat. Lots of flying fish aboard during the night, with
the occasional fish in the face while standing watch: that wakes a person
up! Still flying single jib, reefed down most of the time. While crude,
this has the advantage of being able to reef and unreef quickly and
safely from the cockpit as squalls come and go, so no one has to venture
out on the exposed foredeck. If the wind ever drops, we will try some
more creative sail plan. The poor rooster that we picked up in the Cape
Verde's doesn't know what's happening, and has taken to biting the hand
that feeds him, although he let out a good crow at dawn today; Joel
will be providing a full report in upcoming logs. Happy New Year to
all our friends and family.
Log January 3, 1999
Noon Position- 13deg 00min North- 44deg 40min West
Joel Rowland (Nephew extraordinaire)
You know, it sure
is nice to have a screen and keyboard that don't wave around in front
of you so much that you end up bouncing your nose on the [[ key when
you meant to hit the q. These boisterous but benevolent Trades are finally
blowing like the Pilot Chart says they should and, dare I say it, the
Milk Run has begun. We passed halfway last night, 7 days out exactly-
1050 miles...!!!!!! I did the math for you- that's averaging 150 miles
every 24 hours and 6.25 knots per hour!!!!! And that doesn't even include
all the damn up and down. Granted, a small amount of that is current,
but I think our average speed through the water is at least 6 knots!
Man, this first
week we had all sorts of visitors aboard- among the unwelcome we've
had numerous waves- from the great big bucket of water in your face
kind, to the kinds that spit in your lap, soak your back, run up your
pantleg or drip down your scalp (that was a fun sentence to write).
The uninvited but not necessarily unwelcome flying fish have been pelting
boat and crew at night, sure they're just as surprised to run into a
wall of Gore-tex as we are to be smacked by a fluttering, stinky fish.
They litter our decks every morning- from 6 inches long to the tiniest
sardine. I've been putting them on fish hooks in the mornings and trying
my luck. And up until just the other day we had a chicken aboard!
It wasn't some fancy
pelagic chicken or anything, just your ordinary barnyard rooster. Wait,
I take that back, he was no ordinary rooster he was a right salty bird
from Ilha Brava, Cape Verde. He couldn't wait to get back on the water,
in fact, when I brought him aboard for the first time he flapped out
of my grasp right into the sea, and the little bugger started swimming!
Took him a second to remember how, but once he did he was gone, pulling
like Mark Spitz with a little more neck action. I have absolutely no
idea where he thought he was headed (maybe for Sydney 2000), but I thought
that the deck of our boat would be a little more comfortable, so after
I recovered from my initial shock and swearing routine and after almost
laughing myself overboard I went and fetched him in the dinghy. He was
a real seafarer- he strutted our poop deck
in his little chicken oilskins- smoking a pipe, daring those giant squid
to come after him. He was looking the wrong way. And unfortunately for
him he got his crow back, not to mention his pecking and biting instinct-
right around New Year's, so the three of us wrestled him to the deck
and somehow in the process his head got chopped off (fine way to treat
a guest), and so help me, the very second that I threw it into the sea,
a wave washed it right back on board and completely soaked me while
it was at it...Ewwww. Do any of you believe in chicken Karma??
Anyhow, we roasted
him to perfection and celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's
in one big gravy covered throw down. And you can believe that we gave
thanks to the spirit of Freestyle, beloved, late rooster of the Good-ship
So we're Caribbean
bound with a bone in our teeth, knocking down waypoints one after the
other and celebrating each with a toast to Neptune and a Mint Milano
(thanks Felicity). Yep, all's well on the water. Til next time!
Sea ya- Wouldn't
wanna be ya (brrrrr), Joel
Log- January 7, 1999
Joel Rowland (nephew etc.)
What shall we do with the Drunken Sailor?
Position- 12deg 28min North- 55deg 25min West
My last entry and
news from home about the huge snowstorm got me thinking (ouch) and I
entertained myself for the duration of an entire 4 hour night watch
pondering these two questions...
would be worse to be hit by than a flying fish?
are things I'd rather be hit by than a flying fish?
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
flying fish wrapped in a hundred dollar bill
flying fish wrapped in a lawsuit
has got to end somewhere)
Believe me the list
goes on, but 4 hours of things that make me snigger at 4 o'clock in
the morning probably isn't what ya'll were hoping for when you logged
onto this website.
Onward and upward---
Mother Ocean and
our galaxy have been putting on a spectacular show for the past week
and a half. At night when the sky's clear the moon and stars have been
spectacular- a few days ago when the moon was full it was so bright
that I couldn't look directly at it without hurting my eyes. Sunrises
and sunsets have also been of the religious experience order and I'm
lucky enough to be on watch from 4-8 morning and evening, so I see them
all. The other evening there was a particularly amazing one which inspired
me to write in my neglected journal, here it is... Before I start I'd
like to point out the lack of references to beer and ice cream- thank
you very much.
'The sunset tonight
was long and slow and beautiful. I was enjoying steering the boat, wind
shifty enough to keep it entertaining. I was focused on the seas coming
up behind us, wheel in my hand, our sails winged out in front of me
and the boat moving and alive beneath my feet, hardly noticed the sun
was setting. My mind drifted and I became aware of the sky, first the
colors pulled me in, pretty sunset colors shimmering orange and pink
against the blue, then the texture of the clouds, all at different altitudes
and distances- Tall, billowing cumulus clouds- distant and sweeping
black and gray squall lines, high cirrus wisps and tiger stripes of
stratus, and I noticed that one side of each cloud was dark- they had
a day side and a night side. The sky behind the clouds was a deep blue
with a hazy silvery sheen- For a moment all my senses opened up and
I felt like I was on the outside looking in at the vast sky above me-
I saw the line where day and night meet- Twilight- I could feel the
Earth moving through space and sensed the planet spinning beneath me.
I watched the twilight line move westward. We are over a thousand miles
in the middle of the Atlantic and I know we shared this sunset and this
twilight with no-one on Earth, the colors of the clouds darkened, the
sky became azure and stars began to appear and to sparkle and the night
So that's it, things
are well. We are now within 350 miles of Tobago. Next island, next party.
Peas Ruv, Joel
0200 hours, 9 January 1999
Position is 11d34m
north, 59d31m west by a very satisfactory fix using the moon, Capella
and Canopus. Conditions are the best they have been for celestial navigation,
with seas running not more than 10 feet, perfectly clear skies, and
a half moon giving enough light for a clear horizon, but not so much
as to blank out the stars. The stars are a bit different down at this
latitude: Polaris is very low on the horizon, and we can see both the
Southern Cross and Canopus, neither of which is ever visible in Maine.
This fix is consistent with yesterdays sun fix, and within 2 miles of
our GPS, and puts us 57 miles west of Tobago, in good position for a
mid-day landfall today, which is ideal. And a very welcome landfall
it will be, although it is almost sad to watch the glass run out on
this best of all possible passages, 2200 miles in 14 days, with a steady
wind all the way and the proverbial flowing sheet, no significant gear
failures and no injuries. Almost too good to be true; no doubt something
nasty is waiting for us in Scarborough, which is where we will go to
This run has been
an interesting laboratory for observing our adaptation to motion. There
was no gentle transition this time: we went immediately into steep 15-20
foot seas and 30 knot winds, which moderated only in the second week.
We experienced the usual spectrum of nausea and more or less difficulty
spending time below at first, which is always the case. But I was particularly
struck by the more subtle effects of motion this time, not very original
observations I am sure, but fascinating to contemplate nonetheless.
There are other physical effects besides nausea; headache is common,
as is lassitude, both in the sense of sleepiness and in the sense of
great mental effort being required for tasks which are normally easy.
Sleep is more fragmented and less restorative, with all of us needing
more daytime sleep in the first few days. One is more susceptible to
fear, and to a sense of feeling overwhelmed by it all and unable to
cope with new challenges. These are particularly poignant impairments
in weather conditions where frightening things occur, and crises requiring
masterful coping and quick action are likely to arise. Other fairly
subtle psychological effects occur, including a sort of deadening of
the higher human traits: sense of humor is strikingly diminished, as
is the capacity for pleasure and delight, and for creative or imaginative
thought. The parallel with clinical depression is irresistible. The
best description I can come up with to describe the entire constellation
of changes would be "dogged coping". To be sure, some of this
is purely physical challenge. For example, to heat up and then eat a
can of soup in a seaway, without flinging it all over the boat or yourself,
and without grievous bodily injury, is a kind of epic gymnastic feat,
not unlike what the ancient Irish warriors had to pass through to join
Cuchulain's band (minus the requirement to memorize poetry).
changes come into sharper relief as we begin to emerge into our normal
states of function. The nausea improves, to be sure, but far more than
that. One begins to hear spontaneous laughter again, flashes of wit.
The log entries become funnier and more articulate. Appetite improves,
and the food both gets and seems much better, not just fuel, as if a
Norwegian palate had become French overnight. Undone tasks start to
be tended to in an increasingly brisk fashion. And one begins to hear
phrases like "Hey, we should try ..... sometime"; imagination
returning, like spring. It is so much like what people describe as they
emerge from depression or chronic illness, there must be some neurochemistry
in common, although the time frame is far more compressed. Perhaps it
is just that motion, like any other stress, has an depressive effect
on mental function, but one that most people can adapt to and overcome
in a matter of days.
And more than overcome.
Perversely, motion itself can become a source of pleasure. Take the
case of Bernard Moitessier, the famous French singlehander. After sailing
once around the world in the Globe race, well ahead of the other competitors,
he amazed the world by forgoing the prize and continuing on for another
10,000 miles to Tahiti, most of it in the rough seas of the high southern
latitudes. In part, he did this because he loved the sensation of constant
motion; he described a kind of hypnotic joy, and dreaded ending it by
going ashore. Any lessons here? Probably not, just some random reflections
from a mind reawakening to what passes for normality aboard this here
barky. I hope you all have a week that is moving, but not too moving.